Since its first entry in 1994, the Elder Scrolls franchise has been innovating and setting the standard for western RPGs. The level of freedom granted to players is astounding and the number of quests available in each title is breathtaking. Bethesda's trademark series is still marching on full-force as they are working on the sixth entry, Elder Scrolls VI, set to come out on next-generation consoles.
To celebrate the series' success and bright future, the following list will present ten facts you may not know about it. It has had a long, storied history filled with interesting anecdotes and trivia.
10 Nobody Climbs Ladders
Think hard about all the time spent in Tamriel throughout the years. Try to remember a single instance of an NPC climbing a ladder. Nothing comes to mind, does it? That's because it never happens. The games lack a climbing animation and the engine's AI doesn't allow for it. As a result, the world is built in such a way that people never have to do so. For the player, a ladder always results in a load screen. Will Elder Scrolls VI follow suit, or will they finally find a way to have NPC's use the tool?
9 Arena's Origins
The first game's title may leave some people scratching their heads. Why would an open-world RPG be titled Arena? To answer this question, one has to look at the game's origins. It was not initially intended to be an RPG. Instead, the main focus was on arena combat. The player traveled to various towns, challenging the areas' respective champions until they conquered them all. Over time the focus shifted away from the competitive fighting and onto quests and stat progression. Eventually, the original concept was left at the wayside, but the name stuck. Fortunately, the sequel was not titled Elder Scrolls Arena II: Daggerfall.
8 Bethesda's Origins
The now-legendary studio didn't come out of the gate making sprawling, hundred-hour RPGs. Like most things, they had humble beginnings. Their debut title was a football game called Gridiron. Another notable early game was Wayne Gretzky's Hockey. They also made several Terminator games, a Home Alone adaptation, and a Where's Waldo game. Looking at this list of titles gives no indication they would go on to make an RPG, let alone such a successful one.
7 Oblivion's M Rating
Elder Scroll's IV: Oblivion received an M rating, but the game doesn't really have vulgar content. The game had a T rating until the ESRB discovered an art file for topless women. It was inaccessible in the normal game but was visible through other means.
As a result, the rating was changed at the last minute. It was an unfortunate and arguably unfair change. At the same time, complex games like this generally don't appeal to younger audiences. Most people who play Elder Scrolls are probably old enough to play M rated titles anyway.
6 Charles Martinet
Mario fans will recognize the name Charles Martinet as the man who gives Mario his voice. The actor has done more work than just his contribution to Nintendo, however. He has been on the stage and television. Surprisingly, he also provides a voice in Skyrim.
The character he plays is Paarthurnax, a large dragon who helps the character during the main quest. Without knowing beforehand, one would never guess the voice in Skyrim is the same one portraying gaming's favorite Italian plumber.
5 Oblivion's PS3 Version
Oblivion's release was a huge event. While the Xbox had sprawling RPGs like Knights of the Old Republic and Morrowind, the fourth Elder Scrolls game was on a scale console gamers never saw before. The PS3 version released in March 2007.
The version for Sony's console featured several graphical improvements and the Knights of the Nine expansion, but lacked other downloadable content. The frame rate and load times were also greatly improved. Still, considering it came out a year after the original release, the updates weren't enough for those who patiently waited.
4 Jim Cummings
Bethesda games generally use the same voice cast taken from their local stock of actors in Maryland. Occasionally they'll pull in a bigger name to spice things up. Patrick Stewart was one of the first voices people heard in Oblivion. In Skyrim, Jim Cummings lent his talents to the role of Festus Krex and a few other characters. Cummings has played Winnie the Pooh for over thirty years and even played him in the recently released Christopher Robbin.
3 Morrowind Was Not The First 3D Elder Scrolls Game
Morrowind was a startling achievement in video games. The open-world RPG's environment was unbelievably detailed and contained an unprecedented depth. Yet for all its innovations, it must be stated that it was not the first 3D entry into the series. That honor belongs to The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard. At least the spin-off has that distinction, because there's not much else positive to say about it. The 3D action-adventure game is applauded for its ambition, but the execution was less than stellar.
2 Christopher Weaver
The name Christopher Weaver has long since disassociated itself with gaming, but it is an important name to know and appreciate for fans of the series. Weaver was one of the founders of Bethesda Softworks and produced the early Elder Scrolls games. He left the industry in 2002, but kept working hard in various technical fields. These days, he is a teacher and occasionally serves as a technical advisor to various government agencies. We wonder how often his involvement in the beloved gaming series comes up in his everyday life.
1 Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion
Believe it or not, a version of Oblivion was in the works for the PSP. Sony's handheld was a powerful machine back in the day, but putting even the most primitive version of this gargantuan RPG on the portable device would be an impressive feat. The game, titled Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion, ultimately never made it to release. Beta builds exist, and gameplay videos are plentiful on Youtube. It looked promising and makes one wish it had come out. Still, games are usually canceled for a reason, and maybe it wasn't shaping up the way people had hoped.